Summary prepared by Devashish Bharuka
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Defendants owns and operate a weekly newsppare based in South California. Plaintiff's trademark, "West Side Story", is incorporated into the title of defendants newspapers. In addition to the allegations of infringement based on the title of defendants newspapers, plaintiffs claimed that defendants had further infringed their trademark by registering with Network Solutions, Inc., for the Internet domain name "westsidedirectory.com". With its new name domain name up and running, defendants began publishing and maintaining a website at "westsidedirectory.com" without plaintiff's permission. Defendants generate significant revenue from its website by way of "click-through" advertising.
Plaintiffs filed an action seeking redress for the alleged infringements. Defendants responsded with the subject Motion to Dismiss plaintiff's claim for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs argued that Court has specific personal jurisdiction over defendants because defendants have maintained a contractual relationship with a New Jersey company. The Court held that the act of entering into a contract, without more, cannot serve as a basis for establishing personal jurisdiction over an out of state defendant. Plaintiffs further argued that the use of a New Jersey server adds additional credence to a finding of minimum contacts. The court refused, however, to hold that inter-computer transfers of information, which are analogous to forwarding calls to a desired phone number through a switchboard, should somehow establish sufficient contacts that would subject a defendant to personal jurisdiction.
When exploring cases dealing with the Internet, it is necessary that Court mus find "something more" than an advertisement or solicitation for sale of goods to indicate that the defendant purposefully directed his activity in a substantial way to the forum state. In the present case, the web site did not sell any products and the only source of income generated through the site is obtained by the "click-through" option which links users to other sites. The Court did not consider this type of commercial activity as one which rises to the level of contact that would put a potential defendant on notice that they may be subjected to personal jurisdiction in any one of the States. Therefore, the Court refused to classify defendant's web site as anything more than passive advertisement.
Here, defendant's only possible connection to New Jersey is a "host-server" that channels the flow of information to "westsidedirectory.com". It was unreasonably that by utlizing a New Jersey server, defendant's should have foreseen being haled into a New Jersey federal court.
Held, there is no personal jurisdiction.